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Hawks flex muscles

Armwood's ground game proves too much for Jefferson.

By KEITH NIEBUHR, Times Staff Writer
Published September 17, 2005

TAMPA - When Armwood coaches insisted throughout the offseason that this year's team, despite losing several standouts to graduation, had the ability to contend for a third consecutive state championship, there were many doubters.

The number of them likely has dwindled.

Looking much like the Hawks of recent seasons Friday night, Armwood went on the road to defeat rival Jefferson 28-9. The game figured to be close because the teams were tied for third in this week's Class 4A rankings.

It never was.

Armwood (3-1), which now has won 32 of its past 33 games on the field (one was forfeited), controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides and unleased its best rushing attack of the fall.

"To win state championships, you have to be able to run the ball," Armwood coach Sean Callahan said.

No problem there.

Armwood running backs Eric Smith and Marquise Branton were potent throughout the night. Smith had 124 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries while Branton rushed for 119 yards and one score on 25 attempts. Behind their legs, Armwood opened up a 21-0 second quarter lead and pretty much cruised from there.

"Eric and Marquise were terrific," Callahan said.

The same can be said of Armwood's defense.

Led by the play of defensive end Torrey Davis, the Hawks held Jefferson (3-1) 25 points below its season average by stuffing many plays before they could start.

For Jefferson, there was more bad news.

Starting quarterback Stephen Garcia, among the area's passing leaders and Jefferson's top offensive threat, was injured in the third quarter and had to be taken to a local hospital. His status after the game was not known, Simmonds said.

[Last modified September 17, 2005, 02:15:31]

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